Maybe you’ve seen a Dog Parker around your Brooklyn neighborhood. Maybe you laughed, pointed, compared it to a cryogenic chamber. Then, the next time you were out with your dog and wanted to pop inside a cafe to escape the summer heat, you thought, “Oh, damn. That is a good idea.”
Brooklyn “dog mom” Chelsea Brownridge was solving more than one obvious problem when she came up with Dog Parker. Dog owners want to take their buddies around town, but tying them up outside of restaurants and stores left them vulnerable to theft, accidental escape, and dangerous encounters with strangers.
So, what if you could safely lock them in a climate-controlled kennel instead? Brownridge and partner Todd Schecter got to work on a solution and built their first prototype in a garage across the street from their apartment in Bed-Stuy. “It was just natural that we would do it here in our own neighborhood, in front of our own grocery stores, our own bagel shops,” said Brownridge, a North Carolina native who’s lived in Brooklyn for seven years.
Now headquartered in the New Lab at Brooklyn Navy Yards, Dog Parker is expanding its network of canine cubbies to more locations in the borough for a total of 30 this summer.
That’s a great story. Still, can a dog even breathe in that thing? What if other dogs pooped in there? What if I can’t get him out? Is it okay to stuff my best friend in a box?
“People have questions, and we’ve been hearing them for two years now,” said Brownridge. To answer them, Dog Parker is giving curious skeptics a chance to test it out, waiving the $25 annual membership fee for a limited time and offering a free first week of use (normally $0.20/minute).
The newest Dog Parker is 30″ X 33.5″ X 46.5,” big enough to fit a German shepherd comfortably. It’s completely sealed but ventilated, with air-conditioning and heating, and powered from an outlet with battery backup. An app or a key card unlocks and locks the door (and if you lose both, call the 800 number on the house, and someone can unlock it remotely). After every use, a UVC sanitation light gets rid of any lingering germs, and someone comes to clean it inside and out every day. You can even spy on your dog with the app’s puppy cam.
“It’s peace of mind that I didn’t even know I could have, in terms of just putting her in for a few minutes while I go and grab a cup of coffee, knowing no one’s going to harass her and she’s not going to get spooked,” said Williamsburg resident Bryony Cole, owner of two-year-old collie mix named Margaret. “She goes in there by herself and she just lies down.”
Dog Parker is celebrating its expansion with a party on August 26 in front of the Brooklyn Public Library’s central branch, where two houses are being installed. Next up, Dog Parker dog houses will appear in Manhattan by the end of the year.
The company has its eye on 63 other “walkable” cities, as well as expanding what the boxes can do. They might consider adding sensors for air quality, noise pollution, pedestrian traffic, or other measures that could improve city life.
“It’s about making it easier for humans and their pets to be out safely,” said Brownridge.